Dionysus. Intoxication & Extasy.
Art exhibition at Residenzschloss (Royal Palace)
by Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections)
Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, joy and fertility – known to the Romans as Bacchus – has inspired a multitude of images that could hardly be more diverse and fascinating. The excitement generated by the transgression of social constraints and the creative power of preternatural and untamed natural forces have captivated artists ever since. His countenance, his story, his religious mystery cult have fascinated people throughout the ages. His ritual veneration symbolises the joy of life and escapism from reality, beatitude and rapture, with his mixed mortal and divine parentage making him more easily accessible to man than the distant gods of Olympus.
The images of the god embody an ideal of sensuousness and an affinity with nature that is closely related to religious experience. In Renaissance and Baroque art he is the divine representative of the triumph of life, and his image was used to enhance the status of rulers in courtly festivities: not only the delirium induced by wine but also his triumphant processions, led by himself and his bride Ariadne followed by excited satyrs and dancing maenads, are part of the canon of Dionysian images.
Featuring more than 80 works of art – including antique sculptures and vases as well as paintings, drawings and prints by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Annibale Carracci as well as Lovis Corinth, Franz von Stuck and Max Beckmann – this exhibition, which has been organised in association with the Bucerius Kunst Forum Hamburg, illustrates the vibrant and exuberant sphere of the Dionysian, from antiquity down to modern times. The masterpieces from the Dresden collections are supplemented by valuable loans from European and American museums.
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